First impressions count
While it may be the CV that gets you the interview, when there are several people with the same qualifications, skills and experience, it will be the way you present yourself that differentiates you from all the other interviewees.
Given the time and effort we spend acquiring degrees, honing our workplace skills and increasing our experience, this may seem a little unfair: but whether we like it or not, the way we dress has a large impact on the way we are perceived...especially at interview.
It’s really about making life easy for the interviewer and dressing in a way that allows them to instantly visualise you managing other people and dealing with important clients. So with this in mind, here are my “top tips” to ensure that the way you dress does justice to your competence and credibility.
Do your research
- Find out the dress code of the company you are applying for and then dress two levels higher on your career ladder. The old adage “dress for the job that you want and not the job that you have” still applies!
- Your shirt/blouse should be lighter than your suit/skirt and your tie/scarves should be darker than your shirt. This will give you a more authoritative and professional appearance.
- Check that your interview clothes fit you properly. When it comes to jackets, too big is just as bad as too small and tends to make people look like they did on their first day of school. Skirts shouldn’t twist or ride up and trousers shouldn’t expose bits of leg when you sit down.
- Remember the small finishing touches that make you look ‘polished’: belts, bags, cufflinks and your choice of watch all communicate something about you.
- You will always look your smartest in a skirt suit or skirt/dress with a jacket. A matching trouser suit will work as well.
- Wear a heel, even if it's a little one. If you wear flats then try a patent shoe – these can still look really smart and give you a stylish edge.
- Always wear tights with skirts/dresses. 15 denier for a more corporate look, and up to 40 denier for a business casual dress code.
- Wear make-up. Foundation to even out your complexion (but not too heavily coated); a little mascara; blush to give some colour to your cheeks; and a lipstick that suits your colouring. This will make you look ‘finished’, bringing attention to your face and herefore what you are saying.
- Shirts in the white, blue, purple or pink family are best. Remember to make sure they are lighter than your jacket and tie.
- Don’t wear more than two prints. A pinstriped suit can be worn with a plain shirt and a patterned tie. Or a plain suit can be worn with a striped shirt and a patterned tie. But more than two prints is visually distracting.
- Make sure your shoes are polished. A recent study showed that women often look at people’s shoes when forming a first impression, so don’t lose an opportunity to make an impact on a female interviewer!